Photo Courtesy of Rappler

A Mental Health First Aid mobile App was developed by two University of the Philippines (UP) students. The Computer Science majors, Chad Errol Booc and Chara Mae San Diego crafted their thesis “PsychUP” with the Psychosocial Wellness Program (PWP) of UP.

The duo cited the need to increase the level of mental health awareness in the Philippines.  Together with UP Manila’s guidance counselling program which aims to “foster  awareness of mental health as a priority issue”. Faculty, health professionals and student representatives participated and provided feedback on improving the mobile application.

Currently, it is a campus-based mobile app that requires 3 participants in the process. The student, the peers who provide counselling and the university administration that will monitor the application.

A message based app that will utilize the transmission of messages between the students and counsellors with the objective of the student attaining a resolution to a problem. Upon resolution, the chat history can be deleted so as to prevent any chance of reliving the process towards the resolution.

Another important feature is the anonymity it will provide for those who would require the aid of the app. This will enable the students to freely express themselves without having the stigma of having mental health issues.

The lack of laws that addresses mental health problems is resulting in growing concerns that the mental health problems of the Filipino is not being adequately served by the government. This is evidenced by the incidence of suicide among students that at least 10 college students in the past years and also among the youth.

A law for mental health has yet to be passed by Congress that will enable early intervention such as mental health first aid in averting such mental health related tragedies.

“[Mental health first aid] is necessary until the person receives professional help. This helps in ensuring that the person does not harm his or her self; in preventing the worsening of the problem; in recovering; and in giving relief to the person,” citing the thesis.

The reason for the project according to Booc was “We have recognized the need for an accessible mental health care. I have friends who had suffered from mental health problems but were not able to seek help due to inaccessibility of services. They did not know what to do with it. Others were afraid of seeking help thinking other people might judge them.”

Although the Philippines has the lowest suicide rate in Southeast Asia, the country has an estimated 4.5 million suffering from depression and that makes it the highest in the region and only 1 in 3 avail of help from specialists.

The Information Management Service of UP Manila is already in discussions with both the proponents of the thesis for deployment and tests in the UP Manila campus.

Sponsors willing to help may contact Booc at 0943-425-5212 or via email at chadbooc@gmail.com.

Dwight De Leon is the president of DZUP Radio Circle, the official student organization arm of the official AM radio station of UP Diliman, DZUP 1602. He is also currently an intern for Rappler.

Source: Readings from: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/137967-up-students-create-mobile-app-mental-health-first-aid

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